Natus Vincere won the 14th season of CS:GO‘s ESL Pro League today, following a 3-2 victory in the grand finals versus Team Vitality. This win concludes the third season of the Intel Grand Slam, with Na’Vi notching their fourth event victory to take home the $1 million prize.
Na’Vi had the advantage of starting the series on their own map pick of Dust2, and opted to catch Vitality off guard early. While they typically favor A Long takes while on the T-side, they focused mostly on the B site through the first half, consistently taking mid control to split the Vitality defense in two. They successfully returned to the A site to close out the first half, leading 10-5. Vitality secured a few rounds to begin the second half before the first full buy, won that first buy, but then lost to pistols the next round to give Na’Vi a 12-9 lead and some free weapons. That was a pivotal round since Na’Vi went on to win four of the next five and close out their opening map pick 16-10.
Needing to slow the Na’Vi momentum, Vitality got off to a blistering start on their pick of Inferno, with the stars of ZywOo and s1mple dueling it out in the first half. Vitality at one point had a 7-1 lead during their T-side half, but some impressive A site holds by a lone electronic helped Na’Vi reduce the French lead to just 9-6 before switching sides. Vitality would regain the momentum by taking their CT-side pistol round and building their lead. Their stingy defense was impenetrable, going a perfect 6/6 in CT rounds to take Inferno 16-6, turning the best-of-five into a best-of-three.
To start off Nuke, s1mple delivered a terrific triple kill from the corner of the B bombsite in the opening pistol round. That play gifted Na’Vi some early momentum, winning the first five rounds via total map control. Even after Vitality got their first round, the youngster b1t was opening and closing rounds with huge kills, pushing Na’Vi to an 11-4 lead at half-time. Na’Vi taking their CT-side pistol to start the second half put heaps of pressure on Vitality, who flirted with a comeback before Na’Vi closed the squeaky door on them 16-11.
On their heels, Vitality responded to losing the opening pistol round on Overpass immediately, leading to an impressive T-side first half from the triple threat of shox, ZywOo, and the rookie Kyojin. Vitality took a commanding 12-3 lead into half-time with 21 kills coming from shox. Na’Vi looked to whittle away the French lead, taking the second-half pistol to jumpstart a potential comeback. However, Vitality won the first full buy round of the second half to keep Na’Vi’s economy lean and kept it lean en route to a 16-7 win, sending the series to a fifth and final map on Mirage.
That momentum did not immediately carry over to Mirage. The same names that stepped up for Vitality were nowhere to be found early on. Na’Vi jumped out to a 5-1 lead, and just as Vitality started to put some rounds together, they lost to a Na’Vi force buy without dropping a single opposing player. Na’Vi took a 10-5 lead into halftime, but Vitality climbed back into the map after s1mple missed a bomb plant by less than half a second. Mirage became the closest map of the series, with Na’Vi leading just 15-14. A tremendous 3k from s1mple finally ended the grueling, hours-long series 16-14 on Mirage.
The victory at ESL Pro League secured the Intel Grand Slam for Na’Vi in the event’s third season. This concludes what has easily been the lengthiest Grand Slam yet, taking place over 13 events and over two years, made even longer by the global pandemic. Na’Vi’s first win didn’t take place until the sixth event of the season, at the last normal pre-pandemic event in IEM Katowice 2020. Na’Vi also claimed victory at DreamHack Masters Spring and IEM Cologne before their win at ESL Pro League. For comparison, Team Liquid won season two in just five events in total, taking place over less than half a year in 2019.
Taking Na’Vi to five maps in the grand finals is the best result Team Vitality have had all year, and crucial with some Major qualifiers coming up. This continued form could see them get a top finish at IEM Fall and propel them into Legends status for Stockholm. Na’Vi already sit atop the rankings in CIS and will seek to secure that spot at their own IEM Fall event. Both events start on Sept. 29.